Putting Arctic Winter Games on ice leaves restaurant freezers full of food

Whitehorse caterers and restaurants were counting on some big business from the Arctic Winter Games — now they're trying to figure out how to cut their losses.

'This is happening, this is a fact. Where do we go from here?' asks Whitehorse restaurateur

Antoinette Greenoliph estimates the event would have brought in an extra $2,000 per day for her restaurant. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Whitehorse caterers and restaurants were counting on some big business next week — now they're trying to figure out how to cut any losses.

Many stocked up on supplies and scheduled extra hours for staff, to help feed the hordes that were set to visit the city for the Arctic Winter Games. Now the games are off, and an expected busy week looks like a bust.

"This is happening, this is a fact. Where do we go from here?" asked Antoinette Greenoliph, who runs a restaurant in the city's downtown.

"Of course, you always increase everything. You increase food, and my scheduling is that people would be working more. And it was good for them, for me, and probably every other business here."

Greenoliph said early spring is typically a tough time for business.

"April can be such a brutal month. So our Arctic Winter Games was going to help with that," she said.

Antoinette's restaurant in downtown Whitehorse. (Steve Silva/CBC)

The games were scheduled to run from Mar. 15 to 21, and were expected to bring about 2,000 people to the Yukon capital. 

Greenoliph estimated the event would have brought in an extra $2,000 per day for her restaurant. That may not sound like a lot, she said, but for a small business or restaurant like Antoinette's, "that's a big impact."

Freezers full of food

Now Greenoliph has a freezer full of food to deal with.

So does Luke Legault, whose catering company The Wandering Bison was expecting to provide about 800 meals to various meetings and gatherings through the week. He's not sure how much food he can hang onto in his freezers.

"We're going to find out, that's for sure," he said.

I'll take one less vacation.- Luke Legault, The Wandering Bison

Legault said he'll be reimbursed for some of his costs. That will help him pay suppliers, and staff who were promised extra hours. But he's not sure where that will leave his balance books.

"Down the road, we'll check to see whether or not there was anything left for Luke. I have a responsibility to people who adjusted their lives based on ... my requests." 

He's not overly worried about the loss though. His business is more flexible than a restaurant keeping regular hours, and he's also got some insurance.

"I'll take one less vacation," he said.

Legault is more interested now in finding a silver lining. He said local businesses are talking about other events, to bring some enjoyment to those disappointed by the cancelled games.

"We're trying to figure out what would be actually a really great way to still connect with the community through all this, because we're all sort of feeling it," he said.

"Let's talk about where we can do the most good. Have the most fun. Do we want to do a free event? Do we want to do like, come on out, let's provide appetizers and a free skate?"

Have a 'staycation'

Peter Turner of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce said businesses are looking for ideas to help offset any losses. (CBC)

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce said in a Tuesday news release that it was also looking for ways to "find mitigation solutions," for the economic impact.

"I'm starting by going out for dinner tonight to help offset a restaurateur's losses, and over the next several days we'll share other ideas that we identify," chamber president Peter Turner said in a statement.

Greenoliph likes the idea of encouraging people to have a "staycation."

"I know it's the buzzword right now, but it's a good idea. Go to get to know your city. Be a tourist, go stay in a hotel. Shop locally," she said.

"We've got some good restaurants here. You know, frequent them for the next week."     

With files from Steve Silva


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